Study Guide

Brideshead Revisited Family

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Family is a huge source of conflict in Brideshead Revisited. The novel takes place in England over the course of the 1920s and '30s, when rank and titles among the aristocracy meant that expectations were high and obligations strict; men were expected to act as the head of estates and women to marry a suitable match. Family is also the source of much of the religious conflict in the novel, since children are raised according to their mother’s religion. More than one essentially forced conversion goes down within the course of the narrative, and always in the name of marriage and family.

Questions About Family

  1. It seems that Charles’s father and Sebastian’s father could not be more different, especially when it comes to their relationships with their sons. So what do you make of the fact that the word "poppet" is used to describe both men?
  2. Charles wonders at how "the same ingredients" could produce Julia, Sebastian, Brideshead, and Cordelia. Besides their shared religious, aristocratic upbringing, what do these siblings have in common?
  3. Why didn’t Lord Marchmain come back to England right after his wife died? Why does he choose (eventually) to die at Brideshead?

Chew on This

Family is a purely negative influence in Brideshead Revisited.

Charles seeks a replacement family by becoming part of the Flytes.

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